If you have a child, you have a financial responsibility towards that child, even if you are not living with them. Paying towards those costs is what child maintenance covers, and is usually paid from one parent to one with whom the children live most of the time
You can make child maintenance arrangements between yourselves, or if you cannot agree, go through the Child Maintenance Service.
Arranging it between yourselves
There is not a standard amount of child maintenance that everyone pays, there are different criteria and circumstances which can impact on the amount.
If you want a guide to what might be expected in your circumstances, while still choosing to make the arrangements between yourselves, you can use the Child Maintenance Calculator on the gov.uk website. You will still be free to decide between yourselves what amount feels most appropriate.
As well as the amount, there are other questions to make sure that you agree on:
- Will the child maintenance payments be a regular fixed amount all year round, or will the payments vary to help with additional expenses at certain times of the year?
- Do you want it to cover things like holidays, activities and uniforms, or are these being handled separately?
A good way of working out together how much would be a good amount to pay includes the following steps:
- Compare finances – both write as list of your incomings and outgoings, so you can start to see what is available to budget from.
- Work out the costs for each child – this might include food, clothes, nappies, etc. But also remember things like childcare, holidays, uniforms, lessons or activities, etc.
- Decide how much – looking at the above information how much is needed? Do you want to split costs, so different parents cover the costs for specific things, or just agree an amount as a contribution to the overall costs?
What affects how much is ‘expected’?
There are a range of factors which would influence how much the Child Maintenance Service would calculate is due and who from. These include:
- How many children there are to consider
- How much the parent responsible for paying maintenance earns
- How much time the children spend with each parent
To find out the most up-to-date information and more about how your individual circumstances would affect this calculation, use the Child Maintenance Calculator for a break down.